Baston, Thomas (fl. 18th century).
Thoughts on Trade, and a Publick Spirit. Consider’d under the Following Heads, viz. I. Companies in Trade. II. Stock-jobbers. III. Projectors. IV. Corruptions in the Law and Public Offices. V. Of a Public Spirit.... London, Printed for the Author, 1716.
8° (189x114 mm). , 212 pages. Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary English mottled calf, over pasteboards. Boards within gilt fillets, spine with five raised bands, underlined by gilt fillets. Title in gold on lettering-piece. Upper joint split at the head, corners lightly damaged. A very good copy, somewhat spotted and browned; waterstaining on the last leaves, a few fingermarks. The lower blank corner of fol. C3 is lacking, without any loss. Two marginal notes on fols. G6v and I1r referring to the Appendix.
The first edition of this essay by the Tory Thomas Baston, dedicated – as the title-page states – 'to all Lovers of their Country'. Thoughts on Trade is one of the most interesting works on political economics in Early Modern Britain: an invective against stock-jobbers, projectors, fraud, financial degeneracy or corruption, and an acute warning about stock market bubbles: the South Sea Bubble occurred in 1720, owing to the financial exploits of John Law (1671-1729) and the failure of his system, causing bankruptcy and ruin especially in France, England, and the Netherlands.
The work was issued entirely anonymously, although it was entered into the Stationers' Register under Baston's name. In 1732 the work was published under the author's name, with the new title Observations on Trade and a Publick.
Baston was active in London as a printmaker. In 1710 he was incarcerated for six years in the Kings Bench prison for debt. Thoughts on Trade contains a large section entitled Case of the poor Debtors, which reflects his first-hand experience.
Goldsmiths 5282; Kress 2981; Hanson, Contemporary Printed Sources for British and Irish Economic History 2217; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 225.